By Andy Gadiel
Listen to Tea Leaf Green while you read:
2005 has been a momentous year for Tea Leaf Green.
Tea Leaf Green
They have clocked in close to 130 shows, traveled from coast to coast on several extended tours, shared the stage with Bob Weir, Trey Anastasio and Gov't Mule, and just last month released their critically acclaimed fourth studio album, Taught to be Proud. Later this month, they will aptly close out the year with two highly anticipated hometown shows at The Independent in San Francisco on December 30th and 31st. After growing organically for eight years, working through more than a few rough spots, long cross country road trips, and scraping by to get from city to city, it is clear that Tea Leaf Green is finally getting the shot they deserve.
On the surface, Tea Leaf Green's music is a blend of highly accessible rock & roll, catchy sing-along lyrics, shready guitar, and a solid rhythm section that gets the crowd moving. There are no gimmicks, fancy costumes, or special secret languages. It is, in a nutshell – a good time.
Upon deeper digging, however, we discover a world of stories, characters, and vivid lyrical imagery that has emerged from the band members' own personal histories and their continued struggle to make ends meet as modern-day touring artists. Their storybook tale has been carved out of years of playing to half-empty clubs, long nights on the road, and a youthful quest for the rock & roll dream.
Clark & Garrod :: TLG by Susan J. Weiand
Guitarist Josh Clark is a gritty, scrappy, and emotionally passionate artist who has a unique music style of his own while also lending tribute to those who have come before him. Evoking influences of Hendrix, Allman, Anastasio, Skynyrd, and Zeppelin, Josh seeks to stretch songs well beyond their normal verse and to give fans something new and exciting to celebrate. It is not uncommon to see Clark battling with his instrument as he stares out over the audience, evoking imagery that the guitar is actually playing him while he struggles with his inner demons to reach a point of musical peak. His compatriots give him enough room for imaginative explorations that can take any simple solo into the realms of an anthemic burst, reaching to the starred ether before returning home and greeting a buzz-eyed, fist-pumping audience.
Josh tells us:
"I think at this point people kind of expect us to extend the songs. You gotta have the jam. I need to explode and have my head popped off of my shoulders and rolling on the floor before I'm satisfied and can walk off the stage."
Josh Clark :: TLG by Josh Miller
"Most of the times, we have places in the songs where we won’t practice, and those are the improv places where we can go off into the playgrounds of the songs" explains Josh. It's best when you can sort of try to match the imagery of the lyrics and add something in these playgrounds that go along with that. It might just be my own fantasy and I might not be achieving this and it might only be in my own head, but it's what I'm enjoying and what I like about it. That's what I like about listening and playing music, the kind of music that creates an entire planet for me."
"My fear sometimes is when I go up there and start playing and realize I'm getting away from what I feel is a theme for a song and start to go into my own stock footage. It becomes my own doldrums where I'm neither growing nor regressing, and I'm just floating through. It's easy to rest on our go-to licks and style or think about a Jimmy Page lick on this one particular Zeppelin song and fall into these ruts and want to find a way out. Getting into the jam, you can kind of get into these grey areas. I want to be able to try and push that envelope, but I don't necessarily want it to lead me back to where it started."
"I really don't want the trail to end, but if it is ending, I want it to end strong and to get to a certain place. It's somewhere that you don't get to every time you pick up the guitar – that's where I get off, when I've made something new to me that I haven't done before. You can't really invent anything new now. It's traditions and conventions and how you can pump out creativity and put your own spin on a timeless art form. Timeless in that it's as old as mankind."